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March 21st, 2011 at 7:25 pm

A moto before kimoto? – Bodaisen to Bodaimoto

Before getting with this article I would like to urge you to consider donating to help Japan in this time of tragedy. Three outstanding organizations which will ensure your donations will be used well are:

OK, back to the article:

We often here about the three types of moto or seed mash. There is the currently most used moto type, sokujo-moto, the next most common, Yamahai-moto and the moto which was king before that, kimoto. But, before these there was another type of moto, one that was used as late as 1925 under the name Mizumoto. This moto was bodai-moto and was developed by the monks at the Bodaisen Shoreki Ji Buddhist temple.

The monks studied the techniques used in both Japan and China. They developed their method some time in or before the 14th century. A brewing  diary, “Goshu no Nikki,” describes the two step method and later starting in 1478 as chronicled by the “Tamon-in Nikki” the three step method was developed and used.  Taken together these describe how the method for making Bodaisen had transformed from a single mash sake brewing to one that used a starter culture from previous good mashes to one with a purpose made starter mash, bodai-moto, added to the main ferment and the progressions from including two and then three additions to the moromi.

Bodai-moto is created by combining raw polished rice, a small amount of cooked rice and water and incubated for around three days. The cooked or steamed rice that is added is first cooled in the open air where it becomes infected with yeast. After the mixture starts to bubble and tastes sour the liquid is pored off through a mesh, keeping the liquid to be used with steamed rice and koji for the main mash. Both yeast and lactic acid producing bacteria are cultivated in the bodai-moto and transferred to the main mash in the liquid. Current practice uses this liquid to make the starter rather than the main mash itself.

This method of collecting and using the yeast and bacteria are quite stable. However, because it produces such a large population of lactic acid bacteria this method produces pretty sour sake.

Kimoto was developed after bodaimoto, but sometime before 1685 when it was described in the “Domo Shuzo Ki.” Kimoto controlled the level of lactic acid bacteria better than bodaimoto. However, despite the sour sake produced with bodaimoto, the two methods coexisted from kimoto’s beginning almost into the present day.


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